Horrified at the trend for young women to wear trouser suits to the office, leggings or - even worse - go bare-legged, a group of Japanese hosiery manufacturers has banded together to make stockings chic again.

A women-only fashion show was held on the fringes of the recent "Love and Eros" film festival, in the city of Kobe, with mini-skirted models showing off the designs of three of Japan's largest hosiery makers.

"In recent years, there has been a huge increase in the variety of women's leg wear, ranging from pantyhose to leggings, leg warmers and shorter sock-type stockings that Japanese women now have a huge choice when it comes to fashionable leg-wear," Megumi Suzuki, a spokeswoman for Tokyo-based Fukusuke Corp., told Relaxnews.

"Because Japanese women have the biggest choice in the world, this means that sales of pantyhose have gone down," she said.

"In the past, the fashion for professional women was very conservative, but that trend is changing and it is common for women to wear business suits or even what would be considered casual wear to the office," Suzuki added.

According to the Japan Socks and Stockings Association, production of pantyhose hit a peak of 1 billion units in 1988. In 2009, however, that figure had collapsed to a mere 127 million pairs.

And as well as the vaguaries of fashion, manufacturers have been hurt by their own high standards of quality, with modern tights far less likely to run than their predecessors.

Fukusuke Corp. pioneered the stocking fashion show at last year's film festival, but invited two other companies, Atsugi Co. and Gunze Ltd., to display their wares this year.

"We wanted the fashion event to show off our stockings because it seems that fewer women like wearing them at the moment," said Gunze spokesman Tatsuya Ban. "We hope to be able to reverse that way of thinking."